You’ve made the decision to become a foster parent, and now you’re ready to go through the licensing process. This is an exciting time, but you may also find yourself feeling a bit nervous, especially because one of the first items on the list is your home inspection.
The home inspection is when an inspector visits to ensure that your home is safe and suitable for one or more foster children. It sounds like a stressful occasion, but it’s almost never as bad as you think. By following these five tips, you’ll come out of that home inspection with flying colors.
Get a List of Foster Home Requirements for Your Area
It’s not like the state wants to decline you as a foster parent, and that’s why foster home requirements are readily available. You may receive a guidebook when you start the process, but if not, trying checking the Child Welfare Information Gateway. You can search for the foster home requirements for your state there. Another option is contacting the agency that you originally applied with to start the foster parent licensing process.
Once you have that list, go through your home and make sure that it meets all the requirements.
Check for and Fix Potential Hazards
What the inspector will be looking at most is whether your home is safe for a child. Look around and see if there are any dangers. Check that your home has working smoke detectors, and if you have any gas appliances, you should also have carbon monoxide detectors.
Chemicals and medications should ideally be locked away, although it’s also usually fine if they’re on a high enough shelf that a child wouldn’t be able to reach. Make sure any open electrical outlets have plastic covers in them.
One area that foster parents sometimes overlook is water temperature. Your inspector may measure the water temperature and let you know if it’s too high. Check that your water heater is functioning correctly. You can also put anti-scalding devices on your shower faucets.
Make Sure Your Pets Have Their Shots
If you have any pets, the inspector may want to see vaccination records. It’s a good idea to have these ready to avoid any delays in the licensing process.
On the subject of pets, any that you have will need to be friendly. If you have a pet that shows signs of aggression, the inspector will be wary about putting a foster child in your home.
Injuries around the home are common for young children, and these injuries are usually preventable. If you already have children, you may not need to worry about this, but you should still go through your home and verify that everything is childproofed.
Secure heavy furniture in place so that it can’t tip over and fall on anyone. Set up edge bumpers on furniture and any other sharp edges that could potentially cause injury. Toilet locks are a good way to ensure that the lids on your toilets stay closed and avoid a child falling in.
Be Patient and Don’t Stress
It’s natural to worry before your home inspection and to want to get every little thing perfect before the inspector arrives. However, it’s not worth the stress. The inspector won’t be judging you and they won’t expect your home to be spotless. They’re making sure your home is appropriate for a child, and even if they notice an issue, they will let you know and you may get the opportunity to correct it.
Relax and be patient during the inspection. There’s no telling how long it will take, because that depends on the inspector, but try to stand back and let them do their job. Some foster parents have successful inspections that take only 10 to 15 minutes, and in other cases, it can take longer.
Everyone gets a bit antsy when it’s time for a home inspection. If you get a list of the requirements, childproof your home, check for hazards and make sure any furry companions are vaccinated, then you should breeze through the inspection process.